Acknowledging Sources and the Ethics of Plagiarism – A Case Study from the Term Paper Mill

Greetings cyborgs,

It must work out.

It must work out.

Image courtesy of CTGMusic.com (Celebrate the Great Music) because I don’t plagiarize.  I bet that will be one tangled android these two produce.

Today has been an interesting day over at the term-paper factory that I call my job.  Take a peek at my previous post to check out a funny correspondence of one particularly difficult project and an increasingly disappointed student on the desperate end of the transaction.

I picked up four projects today, two of which were short deadliners that the students needed completed before their last class of the week.

I have found that Thursday night/Friday morning and Sundays are my busiest days – not really surprising considering how college students everywhere are hopeless procrastinators and fans of the four day weekend that starts on Thirsty Thursdays ( if not Wednesday night after the struggle of making it to Hump Day).

Ah, the good ol’ days of hazy keg stands of cheap beer in some random basement with ‘Yeah’ by Lil Jon and Usher blaring while tipsy sorority girls kiss each other and guys in popped collars record it on their camera phone and give each other high 5’s.

Annnyyyyway, so the first project I TKO’d today was an analysis of the 10 year plan being implemented in Long Beach, CA trying to eliminate homelessness (as if this were actually possible).  They are getting a lot of attention though for their commitment and the vast resources they are throwing at this.  They have had some success and have opened over 2,000 shelters and a network of community resource centers that annually assist some 28,000 homeless people to find housing, employment, medical coverage, and treatment for mental illness and substance abuse.

Considering the subject matter, I took this one rather seriously (even though I included a bullet list of stats to take up space).  Here are some of the sobering stats I researched according to the National Coalition for the Homeless study in 2008:

  • 39% of homeless people are children under the age of 18
  • 87% are unemployed
  • 16% suffer from a serious mental disorder and only 5% receive treatment
  • 40% of homeless men have served time in the military
  • 50% cite domestic violence as the root cause of their homelessness

So yeah, that was the cheerful way I started my Friday morning.  But what I really wanted to post here was the second piece I just finished as it relates to the title of this entry.

Here’s the excessively obvious introduction for your viewing pleasure/disgust:
This chapter concerns the ethical importance of giving credit where credit is due in formal academic and journalistic writing. Beginning with a background on which types of sources need to be acknowledged in which circumstances and moving into particular forms of citation, this chapter is a useful guide for avoiding plagiarism and copyright infringement.

A quick related note:

The absolute first project I took when I got this gig was titled, The Ethics of Plagiarism…I laughed my way to the bank.

This project was similar, but instead of a personal opinion, it was a summary piece on a textbook chapter titled Acknowledging Sources.  This time I left a message to the student after I finished the order:

“My dear student,

I have completed working on this thoroughly intriguing chapter.  I couldn’t help but find the subject matter a bit ironic, considering the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.  I hope this is not missed on you.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your future academic endeavors!

Resourcefully yours,

Writer _______”

I haven’t received a reply back yet and hopefully this not-so-subtle-snark didn’t get reported to my higher ups.  If I receive a clever enough reply I’ll post it here in the future.

My last project yesterday was also laughable/pathetic, perhaps even more than this last one –

I wrote an Admissions Letter for some genius applying to the University of Colorado – Boulder.

This promising intellectual included no personal details, only a link to the 2030 Strategic Plan that UC- Boulder is implementing in their attempt become the flagship of the UC system.

Yes, this is unfortunately the sad state of affairs that is leading to the demise of our nation’s institutes of higher learning.  It is an embarrassing issue that a practicing professor friend of mine shed some light on after I told her about this latest debasement.

Here’s the hilariously dejected text message she sent me:

“It’s all a scam – academia’s going to pot.  3 plag papers in a row yesterday.  Not even well done.  Guess I’m looking for liferafts on a sinking ship.  Idealism’s dyin”

My reply: “F em”

Her reply: “My dept chair says i should care less & drink more wine.  I’m testing out that plan”

I haven’t been accused of plagiarism yet by any of my clients so I’m going to assume that my plag is at least well done, like the aged red wine our favorite professor friend is currently consuming in ever increasing proportions…

My photographer friend had this to say:

“Wow…the laziness that has gripped america is shocking…how much u charge for that one?”

My reply: “2 pgs. 20 min. 25 bucks.”

For all of you still considering taking out student loans for school (if you can even still get them) my advice to you is this:  don’t.  Just don’t do it, screw whatever Nike has to say about the matter.

Everything you want to learn is a click away.  Spend your money on a Passport and plane ticket and explore whatever corner of the Earth your imagination dreams of.  Hell, you can explore them all for less than the price of a piece of paper that you get to hang on your wall after four years of college.  OK, six years…whatever.

Alright, so do I really actually truly believe all this?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, but…  College does have its advantages but I’m not going to go into them because those have been mainlined down our throats since junior high when Starter jackets came out and everyone loved Michigan or North Carolina or UNLV, whoever had the best sports program.  Colleges are corporations now fighting the bottom line and the bottom line is that sports are the main source of their income.  Wow, what a tangent I almost slipped off there…

Random thought of the day comes from adult industry veteran Lorelei Lee’s oral history over at The Rumpus.net:

“Sometimes I feel a little less fucked up.”

That’s how I felt when I turned the admissions essay and the plagiarism papers in — I was just thinking, “So maybe I’m not saving the planet, but at least I’m not those hopeless cases.”

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~ by garcialoca on February 20, 2009.

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